Kao Kalia Yang

Teacher . Speaker . Writer

Kao Kalia Yang
Kao Kalia Yang is a teacher, public speaker, and writer. Yang is the author of the award-winning book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008) and the book, The Song Poet (Metropolitan Books, 2016). She is a graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Kao Kalia lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her family.
Kao Kalia Yang is a member of the Hmong ethnic minority. Born in Thailand’s Ban Vinai Refugee Camp, Yang is now an American citizen.

Thaum Hluas Txog Hnub Laus: When the Days of Youth are Gone (Bee Yang, 2014)

This is an album of Hmong song poetry, kwv txhiaj hmoob, composed and sung by Bee Yang, Kao Kalia Yang’s father. The album notes and English translation of one of the songs are by Kao Kalia Yang.


Kalia is a powerful and effective teacher. She believes that one can only teach what one seeks to learn. Kalia excels in diverse learning environments, from K-12 public and private schools, universities and colleges, to different organizations and community groups. She facilitates strong storytelling on and off the page and situates human stories in human lives.

She has taught at the following institutions and in the following courses:

The Loft Mentor Series
Loft Mentor in Creative Nonfiction Writing
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities-- Century Community College, Metropolitan State University, & North Hennepin Community College

Composition I: English 1021
Composition II: English 1022
Honors Writing Seminar

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Literature of Fact
Introduction to Creative Writing
Women and Memoir
Masters Workshop in Creative Nonfiction Writing

St. Catherine’s University, Minneapolis, MN
Adjunct Faculty
Introduction to Composition
Introduction to Creative Writing

Concordia University, St. Paul, MN
Adjunct Faculty
Fundaments of College Writing
Columbia University, New York, NY
Workshop Teacher, Our Word Writing Workshops
Creative Nonfiction Writing Workshops

*Additionally, Kalia works in residence programs. She has worked with: In Progress (2014), Brookdale Library (2014), Manhattanville College (2012), Wayzata High School (2010), Edison High School (2010), Minneapolis International School (2010), Phalen Lake Elementary School (2010), Ramsey Jr. High School (2008), Leysin American School in Switzerland (2008 ), and many other K-12 public, private and chartered institutions.

For the 2015/2016 academic year Kao Kalia Yang is honored to serve as visiting faculty at North Hennepin Community College. If you are interested in taking courses with Kalia, please contact Dean Michael Duenes at North Hennepin at “[email protected].”

Watch Kalia in an author study with the Minneapolis Public Schools:


Kalia is a sought after public speaker. A selective mute in the English speaking world for much of her early life, Kalia’s unintended speaking career started in 2008 with the publication of her first book The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir. Since then, Kalia has spoken at hundreds of book groups, keynoted national conferences, presented for diverse organizations and lectured at many institutions. Kalia speaks with great intimacy, perspective, and grace on refugee and immigrant experience, issues in literacy and education, race, class, and gender.

Kalia has spoken at the following institutions:

Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Augsburg University
Bethel College, Manhattanville College
California Lutheran University
Cardinal-Stritch University
Carleton College (multiple times)
Century Community College (multiple times)
College of St. Benedict
Columbia University’s School of Social Work
Concordia University-St. Paul
Flagler College
Fresno State University
Hamline University
Lewis and Clark College
Macalester College (multiple times)
Miami University-OH
Miami-Dade College
Minneapolis Community Technical College (twice)
Normandale Community College (twice)
North Hennepin Community College
St. Catherine’s University
St. Mary’s University
St. Norbert College
St. Olaf College (twice)
St. Paul College
Stanford University (twice)
University of California-Santa Cruz
University of IA-Iowa City
University of IA-Iowa City (twice)
University of IL-Urbana Champagne
University of MN-Duluth
University of MN-Moorhead
University of MN-Morris
University of MN-Twin Cities (multiple times)
University of South Florida
University of St. Thomas (multiple times)
University of Tampa, Eckerd College
University of WI-Barron County (multiple times)
University of WI-Eau Claire (twice)
University of WI-Fox Valley
University of WI-La Crosse
University of WI-Madison (multiple times)
University of WI-Milwaukee (twice)
University of WI-River Falls (twice)
University of WI-Stevens Point
University of WI-Stout
University of WI-Whitewater
Valencia Community College-Winter Park Campus
Winona State University (twice)


song_poet_coverThe Song Poet (Metropolitan Books, Forthcoming 2016) The Song Poet emerged from a conversation with my father, Bee Yang, a Hmong man working in the factories of Minnesota, a man whose life has been marred by war and poverty. I asked my father how he became a song poet in the Hmong tradition. He told me a story about a young boy growing up without a father and a mother who worked endlessly to provide for her nine children. My father told me that as a boy he used to go from the house of one neighbor to the next collecting the beautiful things people had to say to each other. By himself, he whispered the words to comfort his heart. One day the words escaped on a sigh and a song was born. I told him that it could be the beginning of a book. He told me that no one would want to read a book about a man like him when people could read books about men like Barak Obama (my father loves Barak Obama) written by themselves. The Song Poet is me taking on my father’s story and his songs; it is a tribute to his form, kwv txhiaj, and the poetry that has sheltered us from the poverty of our lives.

  • Work is represented by Bill Clegg of the Clegg Agency in New York City
  • Work is under the editorial care of Riva Hocherman, Senior Editor at Metropolitan Books in New York City
  • Winner of a 2013 McKnight Fellowship in Prose Writing
  • Winner of the Literary Death Match Minneapolis in March 2012

*The Song Poet is now available for pre-order.  Please follow this The Song Poet Pre-Order.

the latehomecomer new coverThe Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008)
The Latehomecomer is the story of the Hmong people and their long journey to America. Commissioned by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America to fight in the Secret War in Laos, many Hmong families were abandoned when the American troops withdrew from the war. Faced with genocide, thousands of Hmong families fled into the jungles of Laos and eventually the refugee camps of Thailand. Kao Kalia Yang’s family arrived in America in 1987. It would take over twenty years for the story of the Hmong family to emerge in the landscape of American literature. The Latehomecomer is an intimate portrait of love and family; it is a seminal work in American history and the politics of war.
100,000+ copies sold
Best-selling book in Coffee House Press history
First Hmong-authored memoir to have national distribution by a literary press
Starred reviews by the Library Journal and Publishers Weekly
Selected as common reading book for the following institutions: University of Minnesota’s College of Education First Year Experience Program, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s First Year Experience Program, Macalester College, Hamline University, twice for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, California Lutheran University, Consumnes River College, Century Community College, Normandale Community College, North Hennepin Community College, Winona State University, and others
Selected as the community read for the following cities: Cloud, MN, Iowa City, IA, Grand Rapids, MN, Cambridge, MN, Buffalo, MN, Monticello, MN, Alexandria, MN, and others
Awards: 2012 Jeannette Fair Memorial Award for Distinguished Writing; 2010 PEN USA Award Finalist for Creative Nonfiction/Memoir; 2009 Winner of Minnesota Book Awards in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and Readers’ Choice; 2009 Skipping Stones Honor Award Winner; 2009 Asian American Literary Award Finalist in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir; 2008 Winner of the Outstanding Book Award, The Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights
*The book is available in paperback, audio, and as an ebook.


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